(FOX 2) - “She just kept telling herself - I can do this. And she tried to stay strong for me, and I tried to stay strong for her -- and it worked," said Melissa Neubauer.
Melissa faced the reality of almost losing her mother Beverly not once but twice in the past year. They’ve always had a special bond - since the day Melissa’s parents adopted her.
"She’s just been like my best friend," she said. “And I don’t know that we could’ve gone through this with anybody else but each other.”
Beverly McNally has been overcoming hardships throughout her life. Born in Detroit, she beat scarlet fever at the age of 14. She was married and soon learned she was unable to have children. It was devastating news, but that led to adopting Melissa and her sister. Since then, the pair have shared an incredible bond.
For the last five years, Beverly has lived at a nursing home in Frasier.
“All of a sudden last year, they tell us she’s got cancer - breast cancer. They said she probably wouldn’t live a year," Melissa said.
At nearly 86 years old, she tried chemo for 5 months. When that became too hard, she had a mastectomy.
“We went through surgery great, that was March 11 - March 12 we went back and shut down. Everything got shut down that day. I haven't seen her since," Melissa said.
The COVID-19 pandemic struck just as Beverly was recovering. She was then forced to heal without seeing her family.
"The next thing you know they call me and tell me she got COVID. While she was recovering (from) the breast cancer," Melissa said.
“I was speechless. The lady was on the phone and I’m like, I’m still here but I couldn’t say anything. Nothing would come out. I was so shocked - I just knew that was going to be the end. I mean, she’s 85. She’s already open to any diseases that are going around with the cancer recovery, and now this hits her," she said.
Though she never experienced a fever, she suffered a cough and pain in her chest and at first, everyone believed it was part of the surgery recovery.
“She for the whole time couldn’t smell or taste, and we again thought it was something from the surgery. She put in a lot of complaints about the food and it wasn’t the food,” Melissa said.
Melissa worried as her mother fought. Friends and family sent cards. There wasn't much they could do but wait and hope -- but Beverly sent updates.
Despite hardship after hardship, Beverly powered through it all.
“The next thing you know, they call me and tell me she’s cancer free and then she’s COVID free," Melissa said.
“She’s back in her room, she’s doing great. She’s happy .. her hair is coming back from the chemo.”
Beverly is not only a cancer survivor but one of over 28,000 people in Michigan who beat COVID-19 as of the time this story was aired.
“She’s a fighter that’s all I can say. I’ve never seen her get too down about anything. She does what she has to do and plows through it. I think because of her I have more strength," Melissa said.
“I love her and I just think that she’s the strongest person I know.”